COLUMBUS, NC - In an effort to improve its policies, programs and practices, St. Luke's Hospital in Columbus is forming a Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC), a group of volunteers whose goal is to provide constructive feedback on their experiences. The council will be made of patients or close family members of patients who have received care at St. Luke's Hospital within the past three years.

"Patients need to have their voices heard, and hospitals need to listen," Kathy Woodham, Marketing/Public Relations Director, said. "We hope this will be the best way to have a conversation with our patients."

PFAC members will serve as volunteers who offer insight and recommendations that affect patient care, safety and services. To be eligible, people must be at least 18 years of age, be committed to improving the hospital, complete an application, participate in an interview, attend a one-time orientation, and undergo a background check. Also, to serve as a Patient-Family Advisor (PFA), applicants must have direct experience as a patient, family member, or caregiver at St. Luke's Hospital within the past three years.

"As recipients of our care, patients and their family members have a unique perspective above and beyond what our hospital team experiences," Woodham said. "Knowing their perspective - both the good and the bad - shows us how to provide even more exceptional care to this community."

PFAC advisors are required to be active participants, sharing experiences as well as offering recommendations. Advisors may be assigned to specific projects or services within the hospital depending on skills and interests. As part of the St. Luke's Hospital team, PFAs must be able to maintain confidentiality, collaborate, listen, reflect, and, according to the application, "see beyond their own personal experiences."

Applications are available in print at the hospital or online at SaintLukesHospital.com in the Patient and Family Advisors section under the About Us tab. Print applications may be emailed to Kathy Woodham at kathy.woodham@slhnc.org or mailed to the attention of Kathy Woodham at 101 Hospital Drive, Columbus, NC 28722.

By submitting an application, applicants agree to attend a mandatory volunteer orientation and be subjected to a background check and drug screening.

"St. Luke's Hospital is consistently a top performer in quality and patient experience measures, but we always strive to be better," Woodham said. "That's why the application process is so thorough. We want and need people who are as dedicated to making St. Luke's better as we are."

For more information, call Woodham at (828) 894-0972.